City view of Johnstown

The city of Johnstown is seen from the top of the Inclined Plane on Wednesday, April 1, 2020.

This year’s Johnstown City Council election includes the largest field of Republican Party candidates in recent memory.

Dr. Joseph Taranto, Charlene Stanton and James Stanton Jr. are seeking seats on the council that has been historically dominated by Democrats. All of them will advance through Tuesday’s primary and run in the general election when four seats will be contested, along with the mayoral position.

Taranto and the Stantons were sent questionnaires requesting of each their name, party, neighborhood, occupation and organizations.

They were asked three questions and given a combined 250-word limit for their answers:

• What are the most important issues facing the city?

• What will your main goals be if elected?

• What qualifies you to be a member of Johnstown City Council?

Here are their responses as submitted, with candidates listed in order they will appear on the ballot:

James R. Stanton Jr.

• Republican Party

• Roxbury neighborhood

• Dialysis Technician/Regional Materials Coordinator

• The main issue is decay, including a dwindling population, poverty, blighted and vacant properties and deterioration.

• My main goals are:

– Accountability for City officials

– Setting priorities for spending of monies from the sewer system sale and COVID relief. List issues needing attention and work on the most urgent issues first

– Fast-track blighted property demolition

– Ensure rental properties are up to code to provide safe housing for tenants

– Repair/replace aging infrastructure such as roads, signage and stormwater management

– Enforcement of City Code Ordinances

– Support our police officers and oppose attempts to defund

– Support the residency requirement for city manager

– Promote and support local small business

– Use funds to revive neighborhoods rather than fund new management positions at City Hall

• I have common sense and core values of honor, courage and commitment learned from my service in the United States Navy and the Pennsylvania National Guard. These values will guide my service on Council.

I completed a leadership course with my employer and serve as a leader; responsible for orienting new employees and as the Coordinator of Materials & Supplies. I care about people. During the pandemic, I did window visits with my dog at a nursing home.

I’m friendly, outgoing and down to earth. These qualities will make it easy for people to talk with me about concerns.

I believe changes need to be made in the City in order to move forward instead of getting worse. I’m committed to making these changes and improving our neighborhoods.

Charlene Stanton

• Republican

• Roxbury

• Nurse

• The main issue is decay, including a dwindling population, poverty, blighted and vacant properties and deterioration.

• My main goals are:

– Accountability for City officials

– Setting priorities for spending of monies from the sewer system sale and COVID relief. List issues needing attention and work on the most urgent issues first

– Fast track blighted property demolition

– Ensure rental properties are up to code to provide safe housing for tenants

– Repair/replace aging infrastructure such as roads, signage and stormwater management

– Enforcement of City Code Ordinances

– Support our police officers and oppose attempts to defund

– Support the residency requirement for city manager

– Promote and support local small business

– Use funds to revive neighborhoods rather than fund new management positions at City Hall

• My public service as Council member (2016-2019) and knowledge of the City’s governing regulations.

I will continue to focus on serving the public (rather than special interest agendas), being accessible to residents and following through to meet their needs.

I actively search for and act on opportunities to promote community and positivity such as:

(1) I organized and sponsored holiday house decorating contests and cutest dog contest (2) free flower giveaways events (3) sidewalk chalking events and (4) organized a pro-police rally.

I organized a pet parade and window visits at an area nursing home during the COVID pandemic, along with hosting and sponsoring a holiday gift drive for residents.

My empathy, desire to serve others and a firm belief that if there’s good to be done – just do it.

Joseph Taranto

• Republican. Running mate of Republican mayor candidate John DeBartola.

• Moxham

• Owner of multiple small businesses in the City of Johnstown, Prior Associate and Cover Doctor, Penn Highlands Adjunct Professor of Anatomy & Physiology, Instructor for Personal Training Certification, Exercise Physiologist at Windber Medical Center. Bachelor’s – The Pennsylvania State University, Doctorate – Life University, Internship – Emory University Cardiac Rehabilitation. Phi Sigma Kappa – President’s Inner Circle, PIAA Official, Penn State Alumni Association, Alumni in the classroom, PSU Kines. APG Board Member/Treasurer, Salvation Army Annual Coat & Blanket Drive, Team Chiro for Semi Pro Football & MMA Team, Moxham Renaissance Christmas at the Russell House, Eastside PTA Auditing Chair, Johnstown Shade Tree Commission, Johnstown Planning Commission, Johnstown Housing Authority Board, Johnstown City Council, Moxham Citizens Action Committee, Boy Scouts of America Committee Chair, University Teaching & Lab Assistant, TEAM CME/ACA Certified Medical Examiner Training

• There are many issues that plague the city. The loss of population, blight, jobs, drugs, crime, the list goes on but these are just symptoms. There is really only one issue that is destroying the city and that is leadership. Our city lacks strong leadership. It lacks strong men and women who are willing to stand in the front and do what is right, not what is convenient, easy, benefits them or what focus groups think will garner them the most votes so they can get elected and enact the wishes of those in the backrooms.

• My main goal, if elected, will be to drastically change the direction of the city. Take a look around – do you like what you see? If you have had enough of their vision, then let your elected officials know by voting them out. I’m not offering to be a mediator or to quietly fill a seat. But if you ask for an alternative, I’ll give you one.

• This is an interesting question because there really are no qualifications to be on Johnstown’s city council. But let’s take a look at what the qualifications of past council persons are; garbage cleanups, flower plantings, padding non-profits, spending government money on friends and family, sweetheart deals on the backs of the taxpayer. So, if one looks at what the past qualifications have been to be on city council, I don’t have any. But I personally don’t think that’s a bad thing.

Dave Sutor is a reporter for The Tribune-Democrat. He can be reached at (814) 532-5056. Follow him on Twitter @Dave_Sutor.

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